The next cupcake

My buddy and I went to Mia Chef Gelateria for a short gelato making course.  I’m certainly not known for my kitchen skills, but dessert is one of the things I’ve been known to throw a little gusto into from time to time, so I was excited to try this out.  Our guide was very zealous about his gelato and his stated goal was to make it “the next cupcake” in New York City (because apparently cupcakes are all the rage right now).

What exactly is gelato, you may ask?  I asked too.  Our guide explained that it originates from Italy, is much older than ice cream, and is fairly similar except that it uses more sugar and less fat.  This makes it more dense and somewhat healthier.  The increased sugar gives it a lower freezing temp. so it’s harder to keep it fresh and avoid melting.  Indeed, due to its lower freezing point and heavier consistency, it must be eaten fresh before it gets icy or loses its sense of fluffity puffity.

Finally, he let us loose and we were allowed to pour and shovel ingredients into our big mixing bowls.  We essentially just combined 5L of milk, cream, sugar and spices into a big pot, plus a specific flavouring like chocolate or panna cotta.  This, we dumped into a $20,000 machine which swirled it and froze it within about 10-15 mins.  The fluffy, chilled goodness then slowly extruded through a grill, which gave it those nice wavey lines that you always see when it’s on display.  He used paddles, rather than spoons, to handle the gelato, so as not to knock out any of the air that made it so deliciously fluffy.

And so we walked out of the joint with 8 pints of fresh, artisanal gelato – stracciatella, panna cotta, cookies & cream and chocolate.  Nom nom nom.  The struggle was to try and eat it all within 4 days while it was still fresh.  We had to resort to making adult shakes, to get through most of it.  My waistline certainly protested and has been proudly displaying its resulting girth for the last 2 weeks.

I think I can see why the guide was so devoted to gelato and extolling its benefits and superiority.  The thing is, you can’t just keep it lying around in your freezer.  For that reason, I’ll prefer a tub of Ben & Jerries chunky monkey or Edy’s rocky road any day.

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